Thursday, March 19, 2015

Manuscript Progress, Teaching Progress

It is the week that I knew would come, and today is the day in the week that I knew would come.  All of my online classes have items waiting to be graded and/or other gradebook tasks today.  But just up ahead:  a hole in the calendar, a hole of several months, when I won't be teaching as many online classes.  I'll still be teaching some, but I should have more free time.

My plan is to do the last revisions to my memoir/book of essays during that time.  I have a letter waiting to go to my next choice for an agent for the book.  Even if my work isn't chosen, I'm taking the opportunity to thank her for her part in bringing Kathleen Norris' The Cloister Walk into the world.

If you had to make a list of 3-10 books that changed your life, what books would be on that list?  The Cloister Walk changed me in so many ways:  it made me want to know more about monasticism, it made me want to go to a monastery, it made my friends want to go to a monastery with me, it showed me a different way of being a Christian, on and on I could go.  And then there are the ways it changed me as a writer.  I was interested in her book as memoir and as a book of essays, and so many of them in such different forms. 

It is the book that led to my current manuscript.

The agent I'm interested in wants to see a Table of Contents, and so I've been creating one.  I wanted a paper copy of the manuscript to put the pages in the TOC, and so, yesterday, I printed one.  As I picked the sheaf of paper, over 300 pages, out of the printer, I thought, take a minute, Kristin, and appreciate what you have done here.  You have combed through hundreds of blog posts to compile this manuscript.  You have revised those blog posts to make them more like essays.  You have figured out where to put the essays that could go at any spot.  You have taken out some material.  You have revised again.

It has all taken longer than I anticipated, which could make me get lost in self-recriminations.   But I've already lost too much time--onwards toward the goal!

Well, in a week or two, I'll move onward.  Today it's back to grading.

But I leave you with a poem--actually a link to the current issue of Southern Women's Review, where my poem "Cassandra Considers the Dust" appears on page 43.  Tomorrow I'll write more about the composition process for that poem.

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